William Bowers

December 24, 1935 - June 23, 2021
William  Bowers thumbnail
Marana Mortuary & Cemetery
Boris A. castro
Boris A. castro Light a candle


William Sigmond Bowers was born December 24, 1935, to William and Florence Bowers of Decatur, Indiana.  Surrounded by his loving family he passed away peacefully at the home he designed and loved in Tucson, AZ on June 23,2021.

William grew up in the small farming town of Decatur, Indiana where his parents owned and operated the Bowers Hardware Store.  He attended St. Mary’s Elementary school and St. Joseph’s High School where he became interested in science.  In 1953 after graduation, he attended Marquette University for two years then transferred to Indiana University to complete his undergraduate education.  A class in entomology during his senior year enticed him into pursuing a career in the study of insect science-specifically insect hormones.  He received his AB degree in zoology and chemistry from Indiana University and his doctorate in entomology, biochemistry, and physiology from Purdue University in 1962.

Doctor Bowers accepted the position of Insect Physiologist at the USDA Pioneering Research Laboratory in Beltsville, MD after completing his Ph.D. degree.  There he began his research into the Development of biorational strategies for plant and public health protection-Natural product chemistry applied to pest and disease control-Insect growth and behavior regulating allechemicals.  In 1965 he synthesized the first insect juvenile hormone which keeps insects at an immature state of development and prevents reproduction.  This was a phenomenal discovery for a young scientist.   He later discovered an anti-juvenile hormone produced by plants which causes insects to become adults too soon and acts as an insecticide.  He was selected as an Outstanding Young Scientist by USDA in 1969 and again in 1970.

In 1972 he accepted a faculty position at Cornell University as a Professor of Entomology and Chemical Ecology.  He continued his research programs and  guided the education of graduate students and postdoctoral research associates.  As a visiting Director of Research for the International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology in Nairobi, Kenya he traveled to Kenya frequently to guide research projects there.  In 1980 William received the J. Everett Bussart Memorial Award from the Entomological Society of America.

A move to the University of Arizona 1984 as head of the department of Entomology allowed him to create a faculty of world-renowned scientists during his leadership.  He was also instrumental in creating the Centre for Insect Science to be set up by the National Science Foundation as a Biological Center of Excellence.  Professor Bowers was selected as a Fulbright Scholar in 1987 and spent six months as a visiting scientist at Assuit University in Cairo, Egypt.  In 1988 he returned to his research laboratory as Professor of Chemical Ecology.  Many awards followed:

1989             Alexander von Humboldt Award

1991             Founders Memorial Award, Entomological Society of America

1993             President’s International Scholar Award, Assuit University,  Cairo, Egypt

1994             Distinguished Alumnus Award, College of Agriculture, Purdue University

1994             Elected, National Academy of Sciences*

1994             Kenneth A. Spenser Award, American Chemical Society

1996             Elected, Fellow of the Entomological Society of America

1999             Elected, Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of  Science

2000             Silver Medal Award, International Society of Chemical Ecology

2000             Sterling B. Hendricks Award, American Chemical Society

*William was extremely honored by his election to the National Academy of Sciences and considered it the highest accolade an American Scientist could ever receive.

Following a sabbatical at Queensland University in Adelaide, Australia, Professor Bowers retired from the research he dearly loved and became Professor Emeritus on the faculty in 2002.  However, he never gave up his love and interest and curiosity about science and followed the science news every day.

Always an avid gardener he spent many happy hours planning, planting, and harvesting his crops and produced great tomatoes and peppers every year wherever his garden happened to be.  He planted a vineyard in New York and made fine wine from his grape harvest.  Olives became his interest in Arizona, where he planted the trees, and harvested and processed both green and black olives.

It was during his studies at Indiana University that a young student nurse “danced” into his life, and he shared his love and life with Patricia as his wife for 63 years. They enjoyed many travels together by RV, Boat, Plane or Pickup Truck and once made a trip around the world together.  It was an exciting life shared by both.  William was father to sons Marc (deceased) and Rion, daughters, Dana, Erin and Lisa and grandpa to Leslie, Ryan and Caroline Thompson and Daniel and Emily Bowers.

Our hearts a saddened with the loss of our dear husband, father and grandfather and we will miss his happy smile, good humor, and enthusiasm for life.

A celebration to honor the life of William S. Bowers will be held at a future date.

Leave a Condolence

Timeline for William Bowers

Born: December 24, 1935
Died: June 23, 2021

Condolences for William Bowers

Marana Mortuary & Cemetery

Our sincere condolences.

The staff of Marana Mortuary & Cemetery.


Eric Schmelz posted on 10/5/21

Bill Bowers was my PhD advisor who helped me graduate in 1999 from the U of A. I think of Bill, his contributions, stories and energy often. I kept up with him a few times over the years and he was always happy to learn of the progress I was making in finding new things. Bill loved discovery, real discovery in chemistry, and this very concept remains scary to most as it continues to be hard. I didn't make any big discoveries while working directly with Bill in the 1990s but his attitude/approach inspired me and has stayed with me for the duration. Bill helped me line up my first job at the USDA-ARS where he started his career and I'll always be grateful for this. "Focus on the research, stay the h%#! out of the politics, you will do fine!". His advice was often short, crystal clear, spot on and easier said than done. Later, like Bill, I too needed to leave ARS to try new things. Anyone who knew Bill will have stories, he had amazing energy and spoke very directly about how he saw things. He also enjoyed getting a rise out of people sometimes. I've dreamed my times of going to Tucson just to sit down and talk to Bill again in person, it would have been wonderful. I'm hugely saddened by the news of this loss and wish the family nothing but the very best. Bill lives on through the lives he has touched and I will always be grateful for the life lessons and memories he provided me.


Ashok Raina posted on 8/5/21

I am deeply saddened to learn about the passing away of Bill Bowers. I have many pleasant memories of interacting with him starting at ICIPE, Kenya. He was an outstanding scientist and a good friend. My heartfelt condolences to the Bowers family.


Boris A. castro posted on 8/5/21

My condolences to his family


Boris A. castro posted on 8/5/21

My condolences to his family


walt & tina taylor posted on 7/30/21

Our heartfelt sympathy and empathy are yours at his passing.


Ritsuo Nishida posted on 7/30/21

Dear Pat and Family, We would like to send our heartfelt condolences. We are truly sorry and sad to learn of Dr. Bowers’ demise. As a postdoc, I spent over two unforgettable years in Geneva, NY with Dr. Bowers. He gave me a wonderful project to work on – new and highly active juvenile hormone analogs from a basil plant, but the chemical identification and synthesis were hampered due to the very low contents and complexity of the structures. He was always prodding and encouraging me, as well as smiling and patting my back - patiently for 2 years! He named the JH analogs as "juvocimenes". We will cherish the fond memories of Bill’s and your two visits to Kyoto. It has been two years since he last emailed to update his status in life. We will really miss him. Ritz and Miwa Nishida


Mark Feldlaufer posted on 7/29/21

I did my postdoc with Bill and he got me my job at USDA (I retired March 3,2021). Enough said. My heartfelt condolences goes to his family. Love. Mark


Ralph A. Killough posted on 7/29/21

I was sorry to hear about Bill's death. Bill and I were fellow graduate students at Purdue. I was a graduate student in entomology at Purdue from the fall of 1956 until July 1961 when I got my Ph.D. degree. It was interesting to note that when Bill graduated in 1962 he went to work for the USDA in Beltsville, Maryland, who was who I also went to work for and was where I was stationed when I graduated in July 1961. However, the USDA first sent me to their field station for eleven months in Orlando, Florida. So, I was on the Beltsville Research farm from July 1962 until May 1965 when I left the USDA. I grew up in North Carolina and when I left the USDA I went back to North Carolina and joined our family pest control business and eventually became owner. I cannot remember if I had contact with Bill while at Beltsville. While at Purdue I met and married a third grade Hoosier teacher named Jane Babb on December 27, 1959 and we have celebrated our 61st anniversary. I have fond memories of the friendships I had with Bill and the other graduate students while at Purdue. You and your family certainly must be very proud of Bill's many professional accomplishments and I know you will miss him. Sincerely, Ralph A. Killough


Maria Fátima das Graças Fernandes da Silva posted on 7/29/21

Our feelings to the family.


Maria Fátima das Graças Fernandes da Silva posted on 7/29/21

Our feelings to the family.


James L. Nation posted on 7/24/21

It was with sadness that I learned yesterday that Bill Bowers had passed away. Bill was a friend. My wife and I got to know Bill and Pat Bowers when he was spending a sabbatical at University of Florida in Gainesville, FL. His family and mine went on a number of outings together, showing Bill and Pat some of the things to see and do in our area. Bill had a great sense of humor and was always interesting to talk with. We took Bill and Pat to dinner one Saturday evening at the Yearling Restaurant, about 15 miles from Gainesville. I don't think Bill had every had hush puppies, small balls of corn meal deep fat fried. He had 2 or 3 on his plate that night and he looked at them and asked "what are these little hand grenades?" My thoughts go our to Pat and the family in the loss of Bill. He was truly one of the "giants" of chemical ecology and insect physiology. Pat and family, hold on to all the good memories, and in these memories, may you find peace and closure. Jim Nation


David Denlinger posted on 7/23/21

Quite a loss for all of us in the entomology community. Bill was one of those giants, and I am greatly saddened to hear that he is no longer with us. Please know that my thoughts are with you, Patricia. Many of us are sharing your grief.


Wendell Roelofs posted on 7/23/21

It is a sad day to receive the news about the passing of Bill. I have great memories of our days together at Cornell, scientific meetings, and visits to Arizona. He was a major force in chemical ecology throughout his career, especially as a pioneer in discovering new juvenile and anti-juvenile hormones by diligently screening endless plant material for activity. He was always an enthusiastic participate in the activity of the moment. My condolences to Pat and family with whom I share many good memories.


Angel Messeguer posted on 7/23/21

Dear all, I have heard that Bill passed away a month ago. With the lines I would like to send yo my condolence to all his family. Bill meant a lot to me scientifically and personally. I had the opportunity to stay at Geneva for a whole year together with my family, Maria Dolors, my wife, and my children Nuria and Joaquim, two small guys of 4 and 1 years old. It was for all of us a great experience thanks to the kindness of Bill, Pat, and all the other colleagues working at the Station. Then we continued our scientific collaboration for some years and I visited Geneva a couple of times and Bill and pat came also to Barcelona. I think that all the family will be very proud about Bill scientific career and also as a human being. All the best, Angel


Eric jang posted on 7/22/21

Dear Pat and family Mai and I are saddened to hear about Bill's passing but know he had a wonderful life and career. I was an honor to work in his lab and get to know him With condolences Eric Jang


Jeremy McNeil posted on 7/22/21

My thoughts are with the Bowers family at this most difficult of times. Spent time with Bill at a number of meetings at the International Society of Chemical Ecology in different corners of the world.